In the last two article on this subject, we covered the importance of child-bearing in the Old Covenant from the perspective of the Ethiopian Eunuch and the question the Sadducees had about the resurrection. Today, I wanted to share with you how this insight into the Eunuch’s joy brings life to another story in the Bible: the resurrection of the Widow’s son.
Soon afterwards He went to a city called Nain; and His disciples were going along with Him, accompanied by a large crowd. Now as He approached the gate of the city, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a sizeable crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.” And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother. Fear gripped them all, and they began glorifying God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and, “God has visited His people!” This report concerning Him went out all over Judea and in all the surrounding district.Luke 7:11–17
How many funerals do you reckon Jesus saw in His lifetime? How many times have you personally pulled over on the side of the road out of respect for a passing funeral procession?
What differentiated this funeral procession from others Jesus may have seen is this key detail: “a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.” Using the information from our studies in Ruth, do you see how much more devastating of a loss this was because of the customs revolving around passing on one’s name in Israel?
Without a surviving grandchild, specifically a male, there would be no one to preserve the father’s name in Israel. It is only natural to have compassion for a woman who has lost her son, but this loss was even more devastating because of the cultural implications.
What Jesus did for this widow and her deceased husband is the same thing He did for the Ethiopian Eunuch in a spiritual sense: he made it possible for their name to continue. Of course, in the Eunuch’s case, he was given a name greater than one that could be preserved through sons and daughters.
I hope you found this as interesting as I did. I first noticed this while attending a house church in Huntsville, Alabama in 2017. At the time, I had recently completed the very study from the life of the Eunuch that I have shared with you in these recent posts. These little insights into the culture of the first century saints really make some of these passages come alive.